Q & A- Treating Lice on Baby Rats

Q & A- Treating Lice on Baby Rats

Crystal Lynn wrote me:

Hoping you can help because I’m seriously at a loss. I’m going to tell you my issue and please just ask questions if I don’t detail enough….so here is the issue, I know I need to get rid of the bedding I made the mistake of buying at Walmart but anyhow seems that a couple of my baby rats and moms have become slightly infested with lice and the babies are just about 2 weeks old so they’re way to young to treat the way I treat my adults do you have any advice on how to get rid of the bugs from the babies before it gets to bad.

I have never experienced this situation so I have to say that first you should be sure you are treating the correct parasite. Lice can be seen whereas mites are invisible to the naked eye.

Assuming you are able to see the crawling little buggers, and know it is lice, be thankful! Lice are much easier to treat than mites! Healthy rats over 5 weeks of age can be treated with either Revolution or Ivermectin. Nursing mom and babies under 5 weeks should not be treated with Revolution. The horse worming paste Ivermectin given orally should not be given to lactating moms or babies either. Choose the topical Ivermectin that can be applied behind the ears of the nursing mom but not until the babies are 2 weeks or older, which you said they are so you should be good. The pups themselves will not need to be treated as long as momma is. When in doubt, ask your vet.

A safer, and probably much easier method is a good old olive oil shampoo. Pour some olive oil into your cupped hands and then slather all over the momma, taking care to cover everywhere including the belly, armpits, etc. It should be enough to fully saturate the coat to the skin. Rinse well in warm water. Follow with a tiny dab of Dawn dish soap, scrub and rinse again.

For the babies, since their fur is so fine at this age, you should be able to take a small sponge (cosmetic sponges work great!) dipped in olive oil and basically do the same thing, but as a sponge bath. Be sure to dry your ratties well so they don’t get chilled. Its a good idea to have a warmed infant receiving blanket to nest them in. You can run the blanket in the dryer for a few seconds while you are bathing the ratties- just be sure to check it to be sure its not too hot when you take it out- let it sit out for a few minutes if you need to. This method is best done with an extra set of hands- one to do the bathing, and one to handle the drying, including prepping the blanket. A receiving blanket, unlike a towel, will not have those tiny loops that bitty baby toes can get caught in.

Most likely you will need to repeat this treatment every 3 days or so until no more lice are visible, to ensure you have killed off all hatching lice eggs.

I hope that helps! I do hope you will let me know how they did! Keep me posted!

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As a disclaimer, I am not a vet and therefore I always recommend consulting with a vet if you have questions regarding your rats’ health.